EXCLUSIVE By Jon Clarke and James Bryce
A team of crack anti-corruption police have raided Ronda town hall in the latest crackdown on urban planning fraud.
So far the team from the National Police’s elite UDYCO department have arrested seven people, including the former Ronda mayor Antonio Marin Lara.
After a year of investigations, anti-fraud investigators believe the group are guilty of ‘various economic crimes’ going back a number of years.
These could include fraud, forgery, bribery, money-laundering, trafficking of influence and false documentation.
The investigators have not yet revealed to which cases the crimes are said to have been linked.
However all charges are linked to urban planning discrepancies and could include the passing of controversial golf development Los Merinos two years ago.
The double golf course scheme with 800 houses and three luxury hotels was given permission by the town hall despite it being sited inside a Unesco-protected zone and failing to get a permit for water.
This morning staff arriving for work in various offices affected were prevented from entering the premises as further police arrived with large numbers of empty boxes to remove files and documents.
Police also seized documents from then home of former mayor Marin Lara – known locally as Toti – and already have numerous other bits of evidence.
The order to swoop came after a year in which prosecutor Valentin Bueno tapped telephones and investigated various cases, it is understood.
Those arrested also include the secretary of the PSOE party Francisco Canestro and two former councillors Maria Jose Martin de Haro and Rafael Lara.
The PSOE has now formally suspended all of them, while investigations continue.